Students, faculty rally for campus diversity

Students of Kansas State University come together to listen and speak about standing together and making a change at the Solidarity rally at the Bosco Plaza on Sept. 14th, 2017. (Photo by Kelly Pham | Collegian Media Group)

About 500 students and faculty from a variety of racial backgrounds gathered in Bosco Plaza at 8:30 p.m. Thursday to voice their opinions and unite against the spread of white nationalist posters on campus.

Paloma Roman, senior in athletic training and president of the Hispanic American Leadership Organization, said this was the year the Latino community was going to get involved with social justice.

“These past years, I was blind to these microaggressions on campus,” Roman said. “Let’s get in front of it before we fall behind and we lose our campus.”

Like Roman, other students said being proactive was the next step needed to combat racism on campus. Various presidents from different student organizations spoke, and students rallied in favor of inclusion rather than exclusion. Students spoke in solidarity while they expressed the desire to make the campus more accepting and diverse.

Darrell Reese Jr., sophomore in mechanical engineering and president of the Black Student Union, spoke to the crowd of about 500, saying white supremacy has no place on this campus and that the university needs to take action. Reese said there needs to be an environment where students can feel safe, but incidents like the “alt-right” fliers conflict with that goal.

“I would like to thank Pat Bosco for being here tonight and showing his concern, but I cannot glaze over the fact that there has been a silence and no response from our administration and our president,” Reese said. “Your silence speaks volumes, and your silence is a part of the problem.”

Reese later said it was necessary to implement a multicultural student center for students to have access to on campus. Reese followed this suggestion by stating that K-State was the only Big 12 school without a multicultural center for students.

Savannah Rattanavong, senior in mass communications and president of the Asian American Student Union, stood in solidarity with Reese’s stance that a multicultural center was needed at K-State. Rattanavong said K-State was her home and that it was being infiltrated with seeds of hate and how a multicultural center could help with the problem.

“Pushing and advocating for a multicultural student center is something the administration should focus on,” Rattanavong said. ” We have the multicultural student organization room in the union but it’s so small and we all have to share this one room. “

In response to Reese’s speech, Pat Bosco, vice president of student life and dean of students, gave his first public statement on the matter to students.

Bosco said he found out about the white nationalist fliers at 10:20 a.m. Wednesday morning after he had left a meeting; a student informed him about the incident. Bosco was apologetic about the university’s slow response.

“We need to come together not with words, but with actions,” Bosco said. “We’re not perfect, and we want to do a better job.”

Following the speeches from faculty and organization members, the crowd took a moment of silence followed by an open floor for students to express themselves and make declarations for change.

Students voiced their opinions demanding that university administration get more involved and provide a stronger stance on racial issues, begin making a multicultural student center and become more proactive and educate students on diversity.

While incidents like this continue to occur, some students said they feared for their safety on campus and at the rally.

Ronnie Grice, assistant vice president for public safety and university police, said his team was responsive and taking information on the situation but had no leads on any threats.

“It is our job to protect all students,” said Grice. “We don’t single out anybody because it is our job to provide a safe environment for all faculty, staff, students here on campus.”

As the event came to an end, students and faculty stood united in the face of adversity.

“For me, I don’t see diversity as a threat,” Rattanavong said.” If anything diversity is a way to share and bring people together because there is beauty in diversity. There is beauty in all our differences.”

I'm Monica Diaz and I graduated in May 2020 with a degree in broadcast journalism and Spanish. I severed in several roles while working for the Collegian, but most of my work focused on rebuilding the Collegian digital brand with an increased social media presence. I also worked on KKSU-TV and appeared as an anchor on MHK All Day in my last semester on campus. In my spare time, I enjoy a good cup of coffee and spending time with family. I have a passion for journalism because I believe that everyone deserves to have their voice heard.